Consignment Shopping Secrets

Finance, Home & Family
on June 24, 2001

To find high-quality or name-brand clothing without the high prices, consider consignment shopping. Not only can you create a great wardrobe at a fraction of the cost of a new one, but you can often shop in a friendly, personalized setting.

Most consignment shops are highly selective about their merchandise, rejecting items with stains, missing buttons, and other flaws. Many wont take clothes more than two years old to keep their stock fashionable.

Consignment shopping can be done in two ways: in shops that sell items on consignment year-round, or at weekend consignment sales held seasonally in homes, garages, churches, or schools.

Either way, the shopper gets great deals. Here are some tips:

u Expect to pay 40 percent-60 percent of the original price.

u Drop in often. Most of the year-round shops get merchandise in all the time, so theres always something new to find.

u Build a relationship with the shops owner or operator. Tell them what you are looking for and ask them to call you if it shows up.

u Know the sizes and needs of other family members so youll know immediately if a great bargain will fit.

u Do your homework. Be familiar with brands and retail prices so you can determine whether a great bargain really is, in fact, a great bargain.

u If you are looking at price rather than selection, shop at the end of the season or the end of the weekend sale, where markdowns can be as much as 50 percent.

u Ask whether the store has coupons or other discounts to save even more.

If you shop the weekend sales, be a consignor, or contributor. They usually get the benefit of a presale for contributors, which in many cases has the most prime merchandise.

When you get tired of the things you bought, return them and become a consignor to recoup some of your investment (this is particularly good with formal wear). Simply clean out your closets and take items you no longer want to a consignment sale or shop. If the item sells, you get a percentage of the sale pricefrom a 50-50 split at most shops to 70 percent at weekend sales.